October 28, 2021

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Russian LGBTQ asylum seekers stranded in Guam

8 min read
Egor in Guam (Courtesy photo)

HAGATNA, Guam — Egor is a homosexual man who grew up in a village around Russia’s Ural Mountains.

Navy provider in Russia is compulsory, and Egor was studying in the metropolis of Nizhny Novgorod in 2019 when recruiters explained to him to enlist. Egor, who asked the Blade not to publish his past name, mentioned officials sent him to a mental healthcare facility right after he failed a psychological test.

“They realized I was gay since I dyed my hair, I have on makeup and things like that, as well as I have earrings,” claimed Egor.

Egor instructed the Blade he did not go to the hospital, and the military started to seem for him just after he fled the city. Egor flew to Guam in May possibly 2019 and asked for asylum at the island’s Antonio B. Gained Pat Global Airport.

“I realized I could go below and implement for asylum at the worldwide airport in Guam,” Egor informed the Blade through a telephone job interview from Guam. “That’s what I did fairly a great deal.”

Guam is a U.S. territory in the western Pacific Ocean that is at the southern finish of the Mariana Islands.

Egor is just one of the upwards of 300 Russian asylum seekers in Guam. They can not leave the island right up until their situations are determined.

Russian citizens until eventually 2020 had been capable to vacation to Guam without having a visa. Egor and other Russian LGBTQ asylum seekers with whom the Blade has spoken took edge of this visa-free vacation to flee their homeland.

Marina, who also requested the Blade not to publish her final title, and her then-girlfriend, Julia Mavrodieva, arrived in Guam on Nov. 21, 2015, with their little one.

Marina on March 24 explained to the Blade in the course of a phone job interview that harassment and threats prompted her and Mavrodieva to leave their dwelling in Ufa in close proximity to the Ural Mountains. Marina mentioned she and Mavrodieva determined to flee the state above considerations that officers would just take their child away from them since they are lesbians.

“LGBT is not great there and also it is the law in Russia that I are not able to demonstrate my daughter our romance,” said Marina. “If the government understands that I have an LGBT relatives, like two ladies and a kid, they can acquire my daughter away.”

Marina fled Russia with her youngster and now ex-spouse in 2015. (Courtesy image)

Mavrodieva echoed Marina in a different telephone job interview.

“That’s when we considered if we’re not going to leave now, they’re just likely to consider the kid away for positive,” explained Mavrodieva. “It’s just a make any difference of time when they choose to do this.”

Mavrodieva and Marina used for asylum as a family soon after they legally married in Guam on Dec. 4, 2015.

The women of all ages worked with a Russian-talking paralegal in California who served them with their Variety I-589, a formal software for asylum.  Mavrodieva reported they did not talk with him for seven months, but he informed them in July 2016 that U.S. Customs and Immigration Expert services had approved and processed it.

The ladies divorced in July 2019. Marina and her little one had their asylum interview a thirty day period later on, but Mavrodieva is nevertheless awaiting hers mainly because she experienced to file her individual asylum application after the divorce.

Julia Mavrodieva (Courtesy photograph)

Sergey and Ivan are a homosexual few from Yakutsk in Siberia.

Ivan informed the Blade on March 23 during a telephone interview that Sergey was attacked in 2011 “because he had earrings.” Ivan stated he and Sergey resolved to transfer to St. Petersburg “because we imagined it was a distinctive place, but it turned out to be fairly significantly the very same knowledge.”

Ivan said a close friend was overwhelmed at a subway station right after they attended an function at a gay nightclub. Sergey informed the Blade he was harassed at function soon after he and Ivan moved to Moscow.

“They form of manufactured me appear out as gay,” he explained, speaking by way of a buddy who interpreted for him and Ivan. “It was not voluntary.”

The few arrived in Guam in April 2017.

Ivan and Sergey said Immigration Equality informed them to apply for asylum in the U.S. by mail, and they did so 45 days following they arrived in Guam. The couple married on the island in December 2017, and before long commenced to get threats since Russian media claimed on their wedding day.

“People in Russia in essence realized about this,” mentioned Ivan. “It acquired community and I started out receiving threats and stuff. It wasn’t quite good.”

Ivan and Sergey mentioned a USCIS asylum officer in California interviewed them in August 2019.

“Our position is still pending,” said Ivan. “We have not received the choice of our software.”

From remaining: Sergey and Ivan in Guam (Courtesy image)

Victoria Palmer, a USCIS spokesperson, in an email to the Blade on March 30 declined to comment on unique asylum scenarios in Guam “due to privateness limitations.”

Palmer pointed out “USCIS asylum officers have been unable to vacation to Guam to carry out interviews of all those who have applied for affirmative asylum” for the reason that of “pandemic-related journey restrictions.”

“USCIS asylum officers also perform credible anxiety screenings for people subject to an expedited removing get who wish to utilize for asylum, concern persecution or torture or concern returning to their house region,” Palmer told the Blade. “Because credible worry interviews might be carried out by phone, the Los Angeles Asylum Office environment has cast an arrangement with the USCIS Guam Discipline Place of work to support asylum officers carry out credible fear interviews telephonically. As at the moment planned, this exertion is pretty near to becoming concluded. Men and women uncovered to have a credible fear of persecution then go just before an immigration decide who has the authority to grant them any type of protection for which they qualify.”

Palmer referred the Blade to U.S. Customs and Border Protection in response to issues about vacation constraints for asylum seekers in Guam. The company has still to react to a request for remark.

Joshua Tenorio, Guam’s brazenly gay lieutenant governor, famous to the Blade during a March 9 phone interview that vacationers need to obvious CBP on the island right before they can fly to Hawaii, South Korea or Japan in buy to vacation to the mainland U.S.

“What they’re saying is experienced they been in any of the states, they would be able to file their asylum papers and be ready to journey in just the United States,” Tenorio told the Blade. “But simply because they did it in Guam, they are not staying ready to do that since they could not very clear the immigration examine, even nevertheless you’re not clearing immigration.”

“It’s a odd truth for us because we are a territory,” he additional.

Guam Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio (Washington Blade photograph by Michael Important)

Egor is the only asylum seeker with whom the Blade spoke who was detained upon arrival in Guam.

He claimed he expended five days in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody in advance of his release on a $5,000 bond. Egor explained a prisoner at the facility the place he was held assaulted him.

Egor obtained his perform authorization in June 2020. The other asylum seekers with whom the Blade has spoken say they are also capable to lawfully operate in Guam as they await the final result of their cases.

Mavrodieva owns a building firm the place Marina now will work. Ivan and Sergey have started a woodworking and pet treatment business enterprise.

“I like Guam and things, but the thing is you’re in limbo,” Mavrodieva advised the Blade. “It’s been decades.”

Some of the Russian asylum seekers in Guam previously this year staged a starvation strike in entrance of the formal seat of the island’s federal government to emphasize their plight.

Tenorio on March 12 met with Mavrodieva, Marina, Egor, Ivan, Sergey and other Russian LGBTQ asylum seekers. Melissa Taitano, board chair of Equality Guam, an LGBTQ rights group on the island, also attended the meeting.

“It was unpleasant to hear why they still left Russia and the type of injustices and indignities and beatings, definitely, bodily beatings, that they underwent and then to find out that they were being in Guam and they had been a aspect of local community, even as refugees,” Tatiano advised the Blade on April 6 during a phone interview.

“Our reaction was to want to assistance,” she extra.

Marina performs for her ex-wife’s construction business in Guam. (Courtesy photo)

Tatiano — a professor at the University of Guam who has a track record in archival scientific tests, indigenous troubles and cultural memory — stated she resolved to doc the asylum seekers’ stories in a short film that is slated for release in early June. Tenorio’s workplace is also performing to give them with lawful aid in an endeavor to expedite their conditions.

“After I met with them, I really, genuinely have just been considering so a lot about them,” Tenorio told the Blade. “I’m just placing myself in their shoes and feel to myself, gosh, how can you just abruptly leave, start off all around.”

Ivan, Sergey, Mavrodieva and Marina all advised the Blade they would contemplate keeping in Guam if they had been to get their asylum situations.

“Guam is a good island,” reported Marina. “I have a career and I have an apartment and everything. I already know Guam. I know every thing below, but I want to vacation of study course.”

Marina and Mavrodieva said their kid has appear out as transgender and has started to transition. Marina informed the Blade a single of the reasons she needs to be equipped to go away Guam is simply because there is no doctor on the island who performs sexual intercourse-reassignment surgery.

“We will need to journey someplace: The U.S., Thailand or somewhere,” she reported.

Ivan told the Blade that “life in this article is safer than in Russia, but there is hassle in terms that we cannot program everything, like a position or something at all.” Ivan stated he and Sergey would like to go to LGBTQ-helpful towns in the mainland U.S. once they are able.

“We just want to be totally free and to have this potential to transfer freely within the United States,” stated Ivan.

Egor admitted he doesn’t know what he will do if the U.S. grants him asylum.

“I cannot really assume about that,” he explained. “It’s been so very long for me.”

Egor informed the Blade he suffers from despair. He also claimed he is “afraid to go again to Russia.”

“This immigration is just like hanging more than my head just like an axe,” stated Egor. “I do not know … if I get turned down for asylum I’ll almost certainly commit suicide at this position. I don’t really know, but I’m definitely hopeful that the judge will fully grasp my predicament better and I hope The usa is the appropriate place that I went to, appropriate, in phrases of seeking aid.”

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